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The Highs and Lows for Women Entrepreneurs: A Check in With WBEs

By Lisa Haydon

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, WBE Canada partnered with Lisa Haydon and Pivotal Coaching, a Certified WBE company to identify the strengths and weaknesses within our community to better understand the value our WBEs bring to corporate and government supply chains as well as the areas for improvement,” said Silvia Pencak, President of WBE Canada. “We are happy to share the findings with our Members, Partners and other Champions of Canadian WBEs to support supplier diversity initiatives and supplier development programs.”

Women entrepreneurs are bound by a similar story. We each have a story of a vision and inspiration behind the launch of our businesses. The challenges and opportunities we encountered as diverse suppliers drew us to join WBE Canada.

My story started four years ago when I took a big leap. I boldly quit a comfortable corporate career to start an executive coaching business. I was fueled by my passion and vision around people, their potential and their performance. When I was introduced to WBE Canada, I joined a community that is connected and working to help both Women Business Owners and Corporate Members realize their goals. I’m proud to be part of it and privileged to be among a group of ambitious and growth focused business owners.

Last year, a group of certified WBEs participated in a survey using my growth diagnostic tool. My Goal was to help shine a spotlight on what makes up the persona of a woman business owner. I was curious about what made us strong and where we could be better. Here is what the survey showed:

  • We are rooted in habits that are fueled by our purpose
  • We have a fire to succeed
  • We like to communicate our thoughts and ideas
  • Relationships are a priority and we take the time to nurture them
  • We interact in a style to drive focus and results

Why wouldn’t you want to be surrounded with women like this? This is an impressive community.

None of us had any idea what 2020 had in store for us or that we, our employees, and customers would have to work far outside our comfort zone. I wanted to check in on how we had changed and what was keeping us strong. I had started to see cracks in that pillar of confidence we all need to operate from. I saw this trend in many of the leaders I work with. The wavering in self-confidence was a concern and I wanted to see how the WBE Business Owners network was faring.

In October 2020, a sizable group of WBE Canada certified business owners provided their self-assessment by answering questions about their entrepreneurial leadership persona using Pivotal Coaching’s proprietary diagnostic tool. The goal for gathering data was to identify the current strengths and opportunities for success. The key insights came in 3 areas of highs and lows: Mindset for Success, Leader Personality and Leader Performance.

MINDSET FOR SUCCESS

This is the MOST important attribute for realizing our highest potential. A leader’s mindset, also known as attitude, is like the engine in a race car. The more fine-tuned and well-oiled it is, the better enabled we are to succeed. In leadership work, mindset precedes self-confidence. The results of the data showed a strong Mindset for Success from WBE respondents. They are particularly focused and confident in how they support the success of others. Their teams and customers know this well.

Where opportunity exists is in letting go of needing to be right. Being open to more learning will take you even farther. Take a pause to ask a few more enquiry style questions.

LEADER PERSONALITY

Leader personality is one driver for a growth focused leader and reflects how well one knows themselves. Knowing yourself is having accurate self-knowledge about your personality. A very important element of the leader personality is interpersonal skills. WBEs confidently see themselves as leaders, willing to step into unfamiliar situations and willing to take the lead.

The leader personality is deployed in how one shows up, interacts and acts. How others experience that personality draws upon soft skills. Enhanced soft skills, particularly interpersonal savviness, are needed more for remote work and virtual selling. Leaders have the ability to think broadly, logically and see cause and effect. This, along with ideas, helps them figure things out.

Where opportunity exists in this driver is to strengthen self-confidence. In today’s business climate, business owners need to have steadfast self-confidence as a leader and in growing our business. From the findings here, there are doubts about one’s ability to succeed.

LEADER PERFORMANCE

Women entrepreneurs don’t have any confidence issues around leadership competencies. They identify as having the skills to lead. When it comes to how competence in the soft and technical skills of leadership is seen, it was resoundingly very confident. They see their leader performance as a dominant driver of growth. Respondents most frequently answered that they are very capable in building high-performance teams.

Where opportunity exists is asking for help. Seeking increased help for adopting a sales process that includes planning and consistent sales activities, especially weekly. Only 60% of business owners had mentors, advisors or coaches helping them grow sales.

OUR FUTURE

What we as the WBE community do with this data and insight can benefit us individually or collectively. For me, I found this to be an interesting lens to look at how our community is doing during this challenging time.

Our drive to succeed may not be letting ourselves show weakness or ask for help. A growth plan for an entrepreneur is anchored in self-confidence. Take a moment and think about your feelings of optimism, self-worth and self-confidence. The stabilization of all three is the anchor for what makes a leader of growth in today’s conditions.

Finding a formula for success is at the very core of why we are part of the WBE Canada community. We are rooted in a similar purpose; we see the potential for opportunities and growth. We want to be successful, not only for our own businesses but for our customers. Let’s create a space for open discussions. Let’s share and learn from one another. Create a buddy system, check in, share your wins and ask for help. Our problem is not potential or capability. Our problem is staying strong, getting focused on the right things and taking action.

About Lisa Haydon

Lisa W. Haydon is the founder of Pivotal Coaching. She is a high business acumen leader, credentialed sales professional, and certified executive coach. Lisa has led teams and clients in banking, commercial lending, capital markets, technology, consulting, and professional services. She is known for delivering transformational leadership and sales results using technology enabled diagnostic tools, consulting and coaching.

About WBE Canada

Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) is a Canadian non-profit organization working closely with corporations and governments advocating for inclusion of Canadian Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) in supply chains across Canada and abroad. To ensure diversity in supply chains WBE Canada works closely with its Corporate and Government members to provide necessary training and support to help establish and develop supplier diversity initiatives. Explore our Corporate/Government membership here.

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